Question

A prosecutor was working with police in a standoff between a triple...

A prosecutor was working with police in a standoff between a triple murderer and police. When the murderer demanded to talk to a public defender, the police did not want to have a public defender get involved, so the prosecutor pretended to be one. He spoke with the suspect on the telephone and lied about his name and being a public defender; the man then surrendered to police. He was sanctioned by the state bar for misrepresentation and was put on probation and required to take twenty hours of continuing legal education in ethics, pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, and be supervised by another attorney. Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not?

  • Are the following actions of a prosecutor legal? Are they ethical?
  • Authorizing the arrest of one brother for drugs (knowing the young man would lose a scholarship to college), even though the prosecutor knows the charge would be thrown out, in order to have leverage so that he would give evidence against his brother.
  • Announcing a suspect of a drive-by shooting to the media so that the offender is in danger from the rival gang members, and then offering protective custody only if the man will plead guilty.
  • Authorizing the arrest of a 10-year-old boy who confessed to a crime, even though there was no serious possibility that he was guilty, in order to pressure a relative to confess.

Answer & Explanation
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Solution

Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not?

 

No, the prosecutor did a very wrong thing.

Reasons:

          As a member of the disciplinary committee investigating the case, I will strongly support the state's decision against the attorney for the following reasons:

        Any prosecutor in the state is restricted by a public integrity unit from engaging in any misconduct against the citizens.

        Any prosecutor has been given discretionary authority, allowing him or her to act in accordance with the circumstances. When a prosecutor meets with the police, he or she must strike a balance between the police's need and the suspect's general right (Søreide & Vagle, 2020). However, this prosecutor's discretionary control has resulted in an unclear, unjust, and incorrect judgment in this case, where the defendant misleads him as a public defender. And he/she admits to the crime. 

Step-by-step explanation

Solution

Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not?

 

No, the prosecutor did a very wrong thing.

Reasons:

          As a member of the disciplinary committee investigating the case, I will strongly support the state's decision against the attorney for the following reasons:

        Any prosecutor in the state is restricted by a public integrity unit from engaging in any misconduct against the citizens.

        Any prosecutor has been given discretionary authority, allowing him or her to act in accordance with the circumstances. When a prosecutor meets with the police, he or she must strike a balance between the police's need and the suspect's general right (Søreide & Vagle, 2020). However, this prosecutor's discretionary control has resulted in an unclear, unjust, and incorrect judgment in this case, where the defendant misleads him as a public defender. And he/she admits to the crime. 
The prosecutor is expected not to make any false statements in front of a defendant, and to reveal his or her details to the offender, among other things, according to the plea bargaining clause. Plea bargaining aids the court's efficiency, but it can only be used for legal reasons. 

        In this situation, the prosecutor behaved unethically by misleading the defendant with false information and misrepresenting himself, resulting in a breach of the offender's right to counsel and a violation of the prosecutor's ethics. 

He did gather and ask for information from the offender in an unethical manner, which is a Brady violation since no full pieces of evidence were given. Along with these, the prosecutor committed a violation of due process, in which the right to a fair trial was violated and the defendant's confession was obtained illegally. 

       Hence, the state's judgment appears to be valid and justifiable toward the prosecutor who lacks ethical conduct in his or her practice and must be supervised before he or she is educated in ethical behavior.

 

 

Are the following actions of a prosecutor legal? Are they ethical?

 

  • Authorizing the arrest of one brother for drugs, even though the prosecutor knew the charge would be thrown out (but the young man would lose a scholarship to college), in order to have leverage so that he would give evidence against his brother. 

There is no weight of charges against the brother. The prosecutor understood that the charges will be dropped, yet this might be considered as initially thought. As per the Code of Professional Responsibility, this is considered unethical. Polilock (2017) points out that, instead of conviction, a prosecutor could perhaps emphasize more on justice. This makes it possible to condemn offenders merely on the basis of a fair system and pure justice. It was inappropriate to deprive a teenager of a scholarship relying on unsubstantiated allegations. Prosecutors, according to legal scholar Ellen Podgor (2003), should seek to make moral and ethical judgments. As a result, justice is served. We can draw the conclusion, based on these findings, that this prosecutor was unethical.

  • Announcing a suspect of a drive-by shooting to the media so the offender was in danger from rival gang members, and then offering protective custody only if the man would plead guilty. 

The prosecutor acted unethical, with regards to Rule 3.8, Section F, of the "United States Bar Associations Model Code of Professional Conduct". The clause requires the prosecutor to cease commenting on the accused (suspect) and to make publicly relevant statements only (ABA 2018). The Prosecutor has therefore not adhered to the criteria of the section and has pronounced the identity of the suspect, which makes it an unethical practice.

  • Authorizing the arrest of a 10-year-old boy who confessed to a crime, even though there was no serious possibility that he was guilty, in order to pressure a relative to confess. 

A prosecutor ought not to charge without sufficient support of information for the potential cause of an incidence, under Section A of Rule 3.8, off the Code of Professional Responsibility (ABA 2018). Our course materials have also backed this same statement. It is a very vital obligation to make a judgment to charge somebody, and before you charge anyone, you should have sufficient evidence. The child has been detained on the basis of wrongful accusations from this situation. Kevin Lapp (2017) identified children as not fully aware in criminal investigations, of the weight and relevance of their comments. From this, it is clear that the prosecutor acted unethically in the ruling he made.

 

 

 

 

References

Søreide, T., & Vagle, K. (2020). Prosecutors discretionary authority in efficient law enforcement systems. In Negotiated Settlements in Bribery Cases. Edward Elgar Publishing.

ABA. (2018). Model rules of professional conduct. Chicago, IL: Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association. 

Pollock, J. M. (2017). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Lapp, K. (2017). Taking Back Juvenile Confessions. UCLA Law Review, 64(4), 902-966. Podgor, E. 1. (2000). The ethics and professionalism of prosecutors in discretionary decisions. Fordham Law Review, 68(5), 1511-1535.